Gene Kilgore’s Ranch Vacations

Ranch Vacations
The Leading Guide to Guest and Resort, Fly-Fishing, and Cross-Country Skiing Ranches in the United States and Canada, 6th Edition.

A Texas Hill Country hideaway

Running-R Guest Ranch
Established on an old cattle ranch in Bandera, Texas , the Running-R Guest Ranch
is small–by design. The idea: you come as a guest and leave as a friend. “If you come here with your family, look forward to watching your children enjoy real freedom, to run and play and truly use their imaginations.”

You’re sure to find the setting soothing, because the Running R is in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. You can’t see the roads or hear any traffic, just the sounds of nature combined with views so amazing and changeable they’ll take your breath away.  And one more plus: all the homestyle cooked meals are made from scratch.

Here, the focus is on horseback riding, with daily rides into the adjacent 5,500-acre‘Hill Country State Natural Area’. Now a state park, this Natural Area boasts more than 40 miles of trails to ride and views that stretch for miles. All of which makes this the perfect place to get in touch with your inner cowboy.

Details: Open year-round; right now is low season, so this is the time to save. High season runs from March-September. Located 56 miles northwest of San Antonio and 10 miles west of Bandera, Texas.


Angling for The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch


19590017Kelly Williams of Colorado writes to tell us about a great accomplishment that the Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch (a member of RanchWeb) recently announced. Brush Creek Ranch recently received the highly sought after designation as an Orvis-Endorsed Fly Fishing Lodge. “I’m sure you are familiar with this prestigious recognition that only 50 lodges in the US have received,” writes Kelly. We sure are!

The Orvis Standard represents the hallmark of excellence in the fly fishing world and is based on strict criteria that evaluates “the level of overall hospitality at the lodge, the education provided by the fishing guides, emphasis on conservation within the organization, the quality of the fishery recognized and the overall guest experience”. Brush Creek Ranch now sits among the pantheon of sporting lodges in the world which have received this honor.

As Kelly says, “An alternate to the traditional dude ranch, this 13,000-acre luxury guest ranch touts its unparalleled fly fishing program as one of the cornerstones of the resort.”  Hard by the million-acre Medicine Bow National Forest, The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch offers a diversity of angling venues with both wading and float fishing options for wild rainbow, brown, brook and cut throat trout, including ten miles of exclusive access via Brush Creek, North Brush Creek, and the Encampment and North Platte, both internationally-recognized freestone rivers.

“Obtaining this designation is highly competitive and can range from months to years,” said Tom Evenson, Director of Western Endorsement Programs for Orvis. “We do not endorse any operation without a site visit and as an Orvis Endorsed operation, the Lodge must provide all guests with a survey emphasizing the “Orvis” experience and ensuring our standards continue to be met. We also return to each of our endorsed operations on a ongoing bases to ensure the level of experience is maintained.”

We tip our hats (and our creels) to The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch!

Details: The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch is set outside of Saratoga in South Central Wyoming’s North Platte River Valley. This is the time to book a spring fishing trip. For more information or to inquire about rates call (307) 327-5284, or visit them at Ranchweb.


Dude ranch news in Everett Potter’s Travel Report

We were pleased to see Ed Wetschler’s story today on Gene Kilgore in Everett Potter’s Travel Report.

As Wetschler puts it “There are more experts on spas, cruises, and ski resorts than stars in the heavens, but when it comes to dude ranches, Gene Kilgore is the expert, a star in his own right. Kilgore dropped out of medical school to write his first guide to ranch vacations in 1980, and since then he has witnessed – and reported to the world – profound changes in how dude ranches entertain their guests. Ranches have updated their programs so much, in fact, that you might even wonder if the term “dude ranch” still applies. So we decided to corral this cowboy and get the lowdown.”

What follows is a neat update on the dude ranching, Gene’s lengthy history of involvement in this unique industry, and some flat-out gorgeous photos. Check out the whole story by clicking here.


Sun-drenched Arizona dude ranch getaways

Never mind that our winter season hasn’t been as snowy and miserable as it was last year. That doesn’t mean you still couldn’t use some fun in the sun and time to stop and smell the desert wildflowers.

It’s easy to  get away for a last-minute vacation at a warm, sunny Arizona dude ranch resort vacation. Can’t you just picture yourself saddled up at your guest ranch resort and riding through a spectacular show of blooms–or just hanging out by the pool and working some color back into your skin?

When to go?  Timing the wildflower season in the Southern Arizona and Tucson dude ranch region is tricky–those darn flowers are as unpredictable as the rainfall. Anytime from February through May, is peak season for everything from purple swaths of sand verbena to red, yellow, and white cactus flowers. And when you do get a great wildflower display in the desert, it can be awe-inspiring.19590032

But which ranch to choose? Arizona ranches have much to offer. One shining jewel is Rancho de los Caballeros, noted for its Old West lodge, and championship golf in Wickenburg (79 elegant casitas).  Don Weintraub of Rancho de los Caballeros adds: “We are proud that our property is a unique combination of traditional resort and western ranch, with horseback, award-winning golf, trap & skeet shooting, tennis, full-serice spa, and gourmet cuisine.”

The resort was recently chosen as one of Arizona’s best by Golf Weekly. Weintraub notes, “If a golf escape is what you’re looking for, our ‘Golf Getaway’ has everything you need. Play the award-winning Los Caballeros Golf Club and stay at The Ranch for a visit full of long drives, low scores, and resort-scale amenities.” Call 800/684-5030 or e-mail for more info or to make reservations.

And Elkhorn Ranch is loaded with family-friendly fun, wide-open spaces, and bountiful meals served family style. At an altitude of 3,700 feet, the ranch is surrounded by the high peaks of the picturesque Baboquivari Mountains and the open desert of the Altar Valley.Elkhorn provides plenty of country for relaxed walks or vigorous hikes and other activities for those who choose not to ride. The tennis court and fifty foot heated pool supply fun and relaxation for kids of all ages, along with shuffleboard, ping pong and horseshoes. Bring your camera and binoculars – the wintering birds of Southern Arizona are numerous and colorful, views are magnificent and spring flowers can be glorious. And Family-friendly Bar 10 Ranch is near the Grand Canyon, with hearty ranch meals and genuine western hospitality (and high altitude, so summer is high season here).  Their Three-Day Outdoor Odyssey showcases the grandeur and history of the Grand Canyon and Arizona Strip. “Descend back in time as you traverse the heart of the Grand Canyon, learning the colorful history of Indians, ranchers, homesteaders, and outlaws who inhabited and hid out in this primitive land.” This package is all-inclusive including meals, lodging, and cowboy guided activities such as ATV tours, extended horseback rides, hiking, ranch demonstrations, living history, and free time activities. Add an additional day and night to your odyssey and book our four-day outdoor odyssey. Three-Day Outdoor Odyssey from $567.00/person

If you’re seeking a luxe hideaway, Hidden Meadow Ranch near Greer boasts an elegant log main house and 12 luxury log cabins. Their Valentine’s Day package is a pip, with a 2-night stay in a 900-square-foot private, luxuriously furnished log cabin. “Our getaway includes all your gourmet meals in front of a crackling fire in our beautiful Ranch House plus, on one night, a champagne toast before dinner followed by our “Two Hearts Eat as One” special dessert selections, a complimentary rose petal and chocolate heart truffle turndown, and a CD of romantic music to play and keep. You can also decorate a handmade Valentine’s sugar cookie for your sweet sugar!” Sweet. Book soon; since Valentine’s Day is on Tuesday, February 14th, this package is available from Friday, February 10th, through Tuesday, February 14th.

Both White Stallion Ranch and Tanque Verde Ranch outside Tucson have stellar reputations as resorts with lots of variety in family friendly amusements: nature walks, swimming, gourmet cuisine, along with the kind of classic southwestern design and décor that many clients come for.

At White Stallion Ranch, act fast and you can join the Dawson Bridge Vacation (February 6 thru February 10, 2012) and brush up on your card-playing skills (cost: $1,050 per person double occupancy, $1,321 single; includes tax and service charge; Does Not include riding). Call 888-977-2624.

And at Tanque Verde, you can swing a racket or swing into the luxe little spa. Check out Tanque Verde’s ‘Last Minute Vacancies’ for special rates for accommodations that are ready and waiting. Or try the ‘Back in the Saddle’ package (available| January 10 – February 29); Book 3 nights, get the 4th night free (Valid for stays taking place through March 4, 2012 ); 25% savings with rates starting at $225 per person/night. You get deluxe lodging, 3 daily meals, daily activities. Ahhh! Take me away.

Details: Need more help with your selection? Don’t forget how easy it is to simply turn to Ranchweb for help. To begin, click on Selecting A Ranch and you’ll see groupings of ranches by lists of all the options that various ranches have to offer, from riding, fishing, and cattle drives to spas and luxury options. If you’re looking for deals, click on Travel Bargains on the home page. It’s another handy sorting tool.  For a wildflower update, go to


Mom, writer, dude ranch fan: Nancy Schretter


At the recent Dude Ranchers’ Association Annual Convention in Cody, Wyoming, one of the keynote speakers was Nancy Schretter (at left), Managing Editor of The Family Travel Network. That’s the award-winning family travel site featured on the The Today Show, CNN, America Online, Parents Magazine and in USA Today.

Ranchweb’s own Gene Kilgore attended the conference and was impressed with Schretter’s talk. “It was upbeat and positive,” says Kilgore, “ explaining how much guest ranches have to offer to families and how guest ranch owners can position a ranch vacation as a multisport family travel outlet.” So we set out to learn more about Schretter and her online Family Travel Network (FTN).

Launched in 1995, FTN serves readers as an’ unbiased source of family travel advice, reviews, bargains, and articles by travel industry experts’. According to the website, FTN is the nation’s ‘oldest and most comprehensive free online site devoted exclusively to family travel and planning great vacations with kids’. Based in McLean, VA, FTN is produced by Beacon Interactive, a division of The Beacon Group, Inc.

FTN’s Managing Editor, Nancy Schretter,  is an award-winning travel journalist and editor, mom, and a busy gal. But in between deadlines, we pinned Schretter down for a brief chat with her to talk about how she got into the world of family travel,  how dude ranches can work best in a families’ vacation plans, and how ranchers can work smarter to appeal to families.
Here is Ranchweb’s  Q&A session with Schretter:
Ranchweb: How did you get started with FTN?

Schretter: The Beacon Group (parent company of the Family Travel Network) was publishing  newsletters in 1995 and we saw the need for more information on family and multi-generational travel. America Online (AOL) came to us to talk about partnering to take some of our other newsletters online. I told AOL about the family travel newsletter and they suggested that we do it online with them. It turned out to be a winning combination—we launched and grew with AOL, reaching hundreds of thousands of families. Eventually, we moved out onto the Internet where our content can be seen by everyone.

Ranchweb: How is FTN’s coverage different from other travel sites?

Schretter: The Family Travel Network is an independent, award-winning online travel magazine providing unbiased coverage of family travel destinations and lodging options. The site provides extensive firsthand destination information and city guides; detailed reviews of resorts, cruises and lodging options; lots of family trip planning advice; a wide variety of vacation ideas; “been there-done that” family travel tips; money-saving hot deals; and more. We do not sell travel of any kind, so we can cover whatever we think is best with no hidden agendas. Our articles are written by seasoned family travel journalists and travel industry experts who are also moms and dads who travel extensively with their own families. Our coverage is widespread, so we have information on great family places that are around the corner or across the globe.

Ranchweb: We heard you’ve taken a ranch vacation in New York. What did you love most about your dude ranch trip?

Schretter: Our family loved the horses, the outdoors, and all of the cool things there were to do. My kids and I were very into horses and animals, so that was a huge attraction. There were lots of activities that we could do as a family, which made for great memories and bonding experiences. In addition to all of the horseback and pony rides, there were sports activities, water fun, kids programs and lots of evening activities, too. The kids liked the sing-alongs. We packed a ton of fun into our short time there. The fact that it was all-inclusive was also a big plus.
Ranchweb: How can the dude ranching industry (and ranches specifically) work harder to get its message out to the world of family travel – especially to moms?

Schretter: Picking the right ranch can be a confusing process, and Moms are always stressed for time when searching for the perfect family vacation. That’s why I love Ranchweb. It’s a great informational resource for families. Ranchweb cuts through all the Internet clutter and helps parents find the perfect match between their family’s need and interests and what individual ranches offer. That’s a real time saver!

When I started looking into ranches, I was blown away by the number and types of ranch experiences that are available for families. There are so many different options, and there’s definitely a ranch to suit almost every type of family. There’s no one “set” ranch experience, so it’s important to get rid of any preconceived notions. Parents need to understand that there are also so many different things that families can do on a ranch. It’s more like a multi-sport vacation: you can do horseback riding, hiking, fly fishing, rafting, swimming, mountain biking, and so much more. It’s impossible to get bored!

Moms need to hear how well a ranch vacation works for all ages – from younger children, ‘tweens and teens all the way up to grandparents. Ranches need to get their message out to everywhere moms are: online, via social media, print, and broadcast. It’s also important to hear the message from moms who have taken ranch vacations so they can get firsthand information and an accurate feel for all the activities and what makes ranches so great for families. I also think that people need to understand how great the owners and staff are. That’s definitely a big part of the ranch vacation appeal. It’s families catering to families, and that makes it very special.

Ranchweb: Thanks, Nancy! We hope moms who follow the Family Travel Network will try Ranchweb to help them in their search for the perfect ranch vacation. And we’ll make sure to ask our readers to take a gander at The Family Travel Network.


Dude ranch jobs: new help for jobseekers & ranchers


You want to be a wrangler, cook up stacks of hotcakes or gourmet meals, or take guests out on fly fishing expeditions? Then maybe you want a job at a guest ranch. But how to find it?, of course!

You could think of it as a dating site where job seekers and prospective employers meet. The goal: the perfect marriage between ranch job holder and dude ranch owners. That’s the idea behind, Gene Kilgore’s newest website, and it couldn’t be more timely.

The site is attractive and very user friendly (if we do say so ourselves). It lists each ranch, next to a  photograph and box listing the contact person and email address that job seekers should reach out to. Then, there’s a brief desecription of the ranch and below that, a list of each job and the dates when the worker is needed.  Put your cursor over the job listed and you get a pull-down menu with a whole lot more information about each job. And if you’re a ranch owner looking for staffing help, the site delivers candidates right to you.

Easy, right? Yep. The guy who created and the author of the best selling Gene Kilgore’s Ranch Vacations guide has done it again.

If you’re looking for workers to staff your dude & guest ranch resort, check out our site. And if you’ve ever had a hankering for a fulfilling, interesting job in one of the most beautiful spots on Earth, then look at the listings on It could be a match made in Heaven.